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Apizza Scholls (PDX) -- get it to go, I guess

Tried going to Apizza Scholls. Got there at 5pm on a Sunday; it apparently opens at 4pm. Found a foyer full of waiting patrons, mostly empty tables and no host or hostess, or any waiter or waitress for that matter. Found a sign-up list and put my name on it. The place was loud: loud music and loud incessant noise from a video game, which abutted the dining area. Went to use the bathroom -- they evidently have all of one whole bathroom -- and had to wait a while, but at least it was clean enough. Upon leaving the bathroom I was again confronted by the wall of noise and chaos of young families with kids running all over the place, and still most of the tables were empty, although there was now at least an employee manning the host position. Did I mention that there is no decor to speak of unless you dig early 70's yellow and brown painted walls?

This was supposed to be my birthday meal and I decided no way was I going to hang around this circus with my dinner companion for god knows how long to try some of the highly touted pizza. We left. It looks like they have to go boxes, so some day I will try ordering a pizza for pick-up if they indeed DO that sort of thing, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit down in that place and attempt to enjoy a meal.

Perhaps the pizza is indeed very good, but it is the bottom of the barrel atmosphere-wise. And the service was non-existent.

Besides being unimpressed with the place, I am even more unimpressed by all the rave reviews of this joint, which fail to mention this aspect of the place.

Have others found this place lacking in this respect? Looking for a reality check here, folks.

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  1. sorry, but its A PIZZA PARLOR!!! its not Babbo for christs sake!? and the to-go boxs are for pizza in the middle of the week, during the winter....other times they sell out of pizza and dont do take out because of it.

    acknowledging your compaint........yes, its loud, full of families, and less then chic in its decor. What were you expecting? Honestly?

    1. being from new haven, this kind of comment cracks me up. it is understood that in NH you WILL WAIT for your pizza, and in most cases, you WILL WAIT to set foot inside the pizzeria. and once you're in there, the atmosphere is of almost zero importance because you are there for ONE REASON ONLY: great pie. you'll drink labatt's or bud and order nothing but pie because its the only thing on a menu. i would be excited at sally's pizza if the server looked me in the eye while taking my order. to me, good service at a pizzeria means not messing up my toppings order. apizza scholls makes excellent pizza and IMHO is much more comfortable and accommodating than 99% of east coast pizza joints.

      and the pizza is outstanding.

      1 Reply
      1. re: goodbyeohio

        Totally agree with goodbye & nkeane. Their pizza is outstanding, I've never had a problem with the service and I'm picky about that. I really had to laugh. I suppose the OP would have written the same about Ken's, another purveyor of exceptional pizza. Both have a long wait, offer takeout only when they feel like it, and have noise and lots of kids. Horrors!

      2. Last time I went to Apizza, there were a lot of people waiting, so we put our name on a list. We ordered a bottle of wine and by the time the four of us finished it they called our name and we had two great pizzas and an awesome caeser salad. Well worth the wait.

        1. The first time I went, near the time they opened, I had a similar experience, but I did stay to eat. Since then, I have been acknowledged when I walk in the door, and told what was going on (how long of a wait), and offered a drink while waiting. I personally wouldn't do take-out there, it's not going to taste the same by the time you get it home.

          1. The best way to do Apizza Scholls is to plan on a 45 minute wait. If you know that ahead of time, you relax, sign your name, go to Space Room or stroll down Hawthorne, maybe enjoy the quirky 49th street, maybe walk to one of the head shops on Hawthorne, and after a pleasurable 45 minutes, your table will be ready. It'll be worth it.

            As for the New Haven comment, sure Sally's and Pepe's are fine, but Little Rendezvous in Meriden was really where it was at in the 80's and early 90's.

            Springsteen Wallingford 1975 Baby!

            1. To the devoted Apizza Scholls cultists:

              Thanks for your replies, some of which were informative and even helpful. I figured I would get stoned (as in have rocks hurled at) for my impunity to question the dining experience there; however, I am left unimpressed by your excuses in defense of the place.

              First off, I am not a fan of chichi food by any measure. I don't care for chic OR trendy restaurants, which I think is part of the reason I wasn't impressed with what I saw at APizza's, i.e. people in the foyer bunched up shoulder to shoulder waiting for Pizza Godot, while in the service-less dining area tables sat empty. I strongly prefer mom-n-pop/hole-in-the-wall/funky joints which actually want my business. Apparently consequently I don't get the reference to Babbo -- have no idea what it is (likely some pretentious, fanny-pants ristorante, which you wouldn't catch me dead waiting in line for. So don't impugning my quite-less-than-glowing review of your false mecca or making presumptions about my tastes in dining establishments. On the other hand, if you think my value system for judging a restaurant is catty wompus, that's fine; however, I have just as much right to think yours are tragically misaligned -- indeed, I wager I am not the only person with views similar to my own.

              Next, this place ain't no pizza parlor. I've been in pizza parlors all over this great big nation of ours, and every pizza parlor I have ever stepped into has always had someone behind the counter; there was NOONE on duty behind the counter or in the dining area when we came in. In pizza parlors you can come in and sit down immediately if there are empty tables. At Apizza that night, there were easily two dozen people scrunched together in the foyer while tables remained empty. This place acts as if it is a sit-down restaurant, but it had NO host or hostess, although there was a sign up sheet. Furthermore, every pizza joint I have ever gone into has some decorations, some color; like I said before, this place looks like it hasn't been redecorated since it was a mid-70's wine bar or cafe. For heaven's sake, the owners apparently hail from New Haven and do "New-Haven" style pizza, so why not have some pictures of New Haven hanging on the walls?

              Also last time I checked, pizza parlors do take-out - in fact, it is often a large component of their business. The fact that this place, as well as Ken's Artisan Pizza, only do take out when they deign to really sticks in my craw. I don't do beholdency to businesses which want to play games like this. So they make a limited amount of dough and can then only sell a limited number of pies; good for them, it's a free country; hence I'm also free to rag on them for their egregious business plan and service, am I not? These things, besides just the flavor of the food, govern my opinion of a restaurant. I just don't do lying supine for my dine-out grub.

              And it's not that I am not willing to wait 45 minutes for a table (particularly if I knew ahead of time and planned accordingly); however, I am not going to wait 45 minutes in order to eat really good pizza within 10 feet of a noisy video game, in a cramped, bustling non-descript drab brown and yellow hole. I used to wait 45 minutes for a table in a favorite pizza parlor/
              Italian restaurant in greater LA, but there was ALWAYS a person behind the counter -- not to mention any number of waitresses and busboys out and about.

              Nor is it that I mind kids or kid-friendly places (admittedly, Chucky Cheese is the exception here); I still like to go to a Pietro's pizza, but at least all Pietro's have the space to accommodate young families (incuding video games tucked away from the dining area). Neither is the case at Apizza.

              And as for the Apizza apologists employing the well-that's-how-it-is-in-New-Haven line: Portland ain't New Haven, thank goodness; the Rose City has a bounty of good chow holes -- the vast majority with some character, atmosphere and or decent service -- to choose from. It's one thing as a college kid (I'm assuming most Portlanders who have any first-hand experience with New Haven pizza joints are Yalies) to wait with your friends for half an hour or more for good food, but noisy dining, since that is de rigueur in dining halls. I just the other night had a bad dining experience at my favorite pizzeria. A large and boisterous co-ed group, all wearing black t-shirts sporting "drinking team" on the back, came in and got rather rowdy until they were served their pizza (which literally shut their pie holes). Objectively speaking, it ruined an otherwise very nice dining experience with someone I had brought there for the first time. Don't tell me set and setting have no effect on the dining experience. dinner time should lower blood pressure rather than raise it.

              As for the order a glass of wine and chill suggestion, there was no one up front to order anything from, and sipping wine while scrunched shoulder to shoulder with strangers isn't my idea of relaxation. If they had a bar -- like any self-respecting Italian restaurant does -- that would be another matter, but they don't, so I won't.

              Since they only do take-out on occasion and evidently the 'za would lose some of its zazz on the trip home in the cardboard box, don't see me ever achieving evident pizza nirvana in PDX. Oh well.

              So go ahead Apizza enthusiasts, knock yourselves out throwing stones at me; I'm a big boy and can take the pain, but I have yet to hear anything that would make me want to give it another try. The combination of incessant video game noise, general bedlam and lack of regular take-out service is a deal breaker for me. Belittle me, if you want, Apizza appeasers, for my blasphemous views. I'm a chowhound who has his standards and is quite comfortable with them. I'm sticking to calling out the emperor on his clothes here, just like the guy who threw his shoe at Bush took his licks for telling it like it is. I've thrown my shoe Apizza Scholls.

              15 Replies
              1. re: Dr Chow

                The reason that Apizza & Ken's don't do takeout on certain nights and times of the year is that they are running up to production capacity at those times. As such, they can make a lot more money selling only to eat in. That way they can sell drinks, sides, and desserts, not to mention helping their staff collect more in tips. In this economy I don't begrudge them this tactic if it helps them survive.

                I can't imagine takeout on pizza of this quality. Ruins it. To me it shows disrespect for the craftsmanship that made it. May as well just stick the whole thing in the fridge and save it for breakfast instead of having it that night.

                By the way: I'm no "cultist/apologist". I go there about once per year (I prefer Ken's for several reasons)! And I did complain about service. That waitron is now gone, fortunately. Totally forgot about that until now.

                1. re: Dr Chow

                  For what it's worth, I'll never understand all of those who climb all over themselves to apologize for Apizza Scholls. Silly really. It can be great and have some service issues as well you know, yes it's a pizza parlor but could also make at least an effort. And that's it, I've never even seen them make an effort. They have the faithful who line up and gleefully accept thier offering, so why would they? Until the line starts to thin, they will continue putting out excellent pie and dismal everything else.

                  Dr. Chow, try Nostrana. I've had a nice time there. Great space and service is pleasant. Although I wish they would cut their pies, they proclaim it's traditional to leave them uncut, sigh, whatever. Good time nevertheless.

                  Also try Ken's Artisan Pizza or at the Bakery on a Monday (they have pizza on Monday) and get there early to avoid a wait, it's a better experience on the service side I think than Apizza. The debate goes back and forth between Apizza or Ken's, I like Ken's best and Nostrana I think is just below Ken's but Nostrana has more of a dining experience. Hope that helps.

                  1. re: Mallory

                    Thanks for the tips, Mallory. I'll try them. As I understand it, Ken's has a new place around 28th and Division, which will likely be the Ken's I try.

                    And thanks for coming out to tell truth to power (i.e. the herd).

                    1. re: Dr Chow

                      Doc: If by "new" you mean two years old and by "around Division" you mean a mile south at SE 28th & Pine, yes, that is Ken's Artisan Pizza's only location. http://www.kensartisan.com/pizza.html
                      The Bakery as described above is on NW 21st.

                  2. re: Dr Chow

                    "These things, besides just the flavor of the food, govern my opinion of a restaurant. "

                    best line of your Manifesto! tells us all we need to know. If the flavor of the food doesnt trump all, by that I mean, if its not the most important aspect, then you truely arent the Chowhound you purport to be.

                    btw, Apizza has its flaws. Yes its shabby, yes its crowded(no one wants to eat in an empty restaurant, right?), yes its got a higher than average Hipster-Service-Vibe(but thats a Portland issue, not an AS issue). But the pizza is in the top 3.......IN THE COUNTRY! the ansillary things I can deal with for a one of a kind pie!

                    Also, did you even eat the Pizza? seems like this is all tiddly-winks, and pointless unless you have!?

                    1. re: nkeane

                      IN THE COUNTRY? Wow those are big words. My three would be damn near anything in New Haven, Piazza Bianco in Phoenix, and Tacconelli's in Philadelphia. Went to Scholls last fall on a trip in the NW, good pie, bad place, not in my top three, not even close.

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        Yes, the country!

                        once ate at Bianco at around 6pm, then caught a flight back to PDX. Was at Apizza the next day, 5pm sharp. Had Identical pies(Margharita) at both places and to this day cant tell you which was better. Dead heat! so yeah, its one of the best!

                    2. re: Dr Chow

                      Dr. Chow,
                      At least someone is on your side. Me. And I've had the pizza at AS. It ain't worth the effort. I find the defenders of this place amusing. In my not very humble opinion, it's not in the top three of anything I'd care to mention here. And no, it won't travel, so don't try that angle....

                      Try Nostrana. EZ experience, superior pizza.

                      1. re: sambamaster

                        Nostrana, Kens are both great. But different animals all together.

                        Nostrana has some amazing toppings, but their crust lacks chew, and doesnt have the yeast and malt flavors that make a truely great crust.

                        Kens is too much in the Nepolitan style for my taste. Undercooked center, no structure to the dough and again no flavor development in the dough. Toppings at Kens are mostly superior to either AS or Nostrana.

                        My perfect Pie would be Kens Toppings on AS dough, Served in Nostranas dinning room!LOL

                        1. re: sambamaster

                          I'm kinda in agreement. Apizza Scholls has an excellent pie. But in the daily ebb and flow of my life, boring as it is, I really don't have the time/patience for Apizza Scholls (or Kens Artisan) unless I happen to get there at the opening bell. I know that I'm making a little space for others who love the place and its pies.

                          Dr. Chow, as you have experienced, there are some regular posters from Portland who may have an excellent palate and have eaten widely throughout the area, but seem to prefer rather trollish ways of replying to Portland questions. I like Chowhound a lot (esp useful when I travel) but the bonhomie that I see on other boards doesn't seem to be present in Portland chowhound discussions.

                        2. re: Dr Chow

                          First of all, your assumption that any Portlander that has a familiarity with New Haven must be a Yalie speaks for itself.

                          Secondly, by all means, don't go to Apizza Scholls. I personally thank you for taking your name off the list!

                          1. re: MichaelG

                            I didn't say "any" Portlander who is familiar with New Haven pizza must be a Yalie; rather I said that most Portlanders who are in the know on this are Yalies. I'll stand by this statement. Please, let New Haven pizza eating Portlanders sound off on this: let's have a poll (although I grant you that this isn't the board for it).

                            1. re: Dr Chow

                              I moved to Portland from central Connecticut. I did not go to school at Yale, I just grew up in the area and frequented the NH pizza establishments. Yalies don't visit that side of the train tracks (where the good pizza is).. Most don't have cars (terrible parking in new haven & great commuter train to/from NYC). Bar is the only NH-style pizzeria near the Yale campus, and it's not even top 5 IMO.

                              You see Yalies at Bar, and often at Louis Lunch (famous hamburger joint). You don't really ever see Yalies in Sallys, Pepes, Modern, Zuppardis, etc. Families, locals & food tourists mostly.

                          2. re: Dr Chow

                            Quite the diatribe, Dr Chow, for someone who has never actually eaten their pizza.

                            Axe to grind??

                            1. re: malarkey

                              Yeah, I was a dishwasher there and got fired. NOT. Nor do I run the Baghad Theatre pizza place.

                              But yes, in fact, I do have at least a hand axe to grind. I tried the much-touted-on-this-board Voodoo donuts and was most unimpressed by it. Then I went to AS, again on the high recommendation of so many here, and found it severely wanting in several key dining respects; so egregious were the drawbacks that I decided to leave rather than deal with the heart ache and high blood pressure of trying to get one of their purportedly stupendous pizzas.

                          3. oh and for those complaining of waiting for pizza, Bianco is the hands down winner for that!(or is that the loser?) Ive seen lines there that are atleast 500 people long.....no joke.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: nkeane

                              I think ultimately this is a discussion about eating versus dining. I'm willing to forego the trappings of a nicer dining experience if I get a craving for a particular food, say, eating a well-made taco, standing up outside a cart or juggling an in-and-out burger while driving home. Apizza, for me, falls into that column. I'll endure the wait and the din for a decent slice -o-pie, but I go with the mind set that it's all about the pie, and nothing else.

                              1. re: Kim D

                                Good point. Actually, great point.

                                1. re: Kim D

                                  twas my point, too.
                                  Pizza is eating, I have never thought of Pizza as (big D)ining. Conversly, I wouldnt think to eat French Haute Cuisine off a food cart!

                                  1. re: Kim D

                                    I'm down with food carts and holes in the wall. I dig taco trucks. I like In-and-Out burgers and good diner food, etc., etc. But I'm not going to wait 45 minutes to an hour for any of it and be forced to eat it in extremely unsavory conditions, i.e. cramped, bustling/chaotic place with incessant video game noise.

                                2. Since no food was actually consumed, shouldn't this post be moved to the 'Not About Food' board?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. having a discussion with a friend, I realized that this quote from Yogi Berra sums this entire thread up.......

                                    "No one goes there anymore!.....its too crowded."

                                    1. One more vote with Dr. Chow, Mallory, et al. Apizza Scholls is tasty, but not worth the bother for me. I find Ken's as good and a better experience. I agree that Ken's is more of a Neapolitan style but I don't see this as a flaw. I've never been treated the least bit rudely at AS and don't remember being bothered by video games or feeling annoyed about absent staff. I don't care about ambience. But I have waited more than an hour for a table twice (and twice is enough for me). No axe to grind here. I'm looking forward to trying Nostrana.

                                      To those who argue that, if food really matters, any inconvenience must be ignored, I would suggest that it's really a question of line-drawing: how much inconvenience (or cost) you'll accept in return for a good enough meal. For all of your talk in absolute terms, I bet you have your line, too.

                                      1. Dr. Chow. I have to agree with you on several issues. I live near Apizza and would rather drive over to Ken's (where I prefer the pizza, anyway) than endure the Apizza "experience". I don't care how great the food is, if the guests are treated poorly, there's just no excuse for that. Yes, there should be someone at the counter helping the guests. I actually think it's kind of funny that people openly support a business that acts as if they really don't care about their patrons. Go ahead and eat there, I won't. I prefer to be treated respectfully as that is the way I treat people both when working in a restaurant and dining out. If that makes me a non-foodie. So be it. I like great food, I enjoy a nice atmosphere and I appreciate being treated respectfully when dining out. For me it is a package deal, I'll try most anything once but a place like Apizza is not where I would find myself going back to. And as far as the East Coast/West Coast debate, I live on the West Coast for a reason, if treating people poorly in a Pizza place is the way its supposed to be because that's they way it is in the East, well, I'm just glad I live on the West Coast. I get enough of the East Coast for work and I'm always so happy to come home!

                                        1. Another excellent pizza place in PDX: Tastebud. Grubbin' crust and unique toppings. It's a small place, and seating is communal at a handful of benches. Right across Milwaulie Ave from the Aladdin Theater.

                                          If you love pizza, you MUST eat there.

                                          1. Thanks All, for the replies yay or nay on AS. I particularly appreciate the others willing to tell it like it is and not go along with the pizza lemmings. Got a lot of laughs and some pizza joint ideas out of it.

                                            Grazie

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Dr Chow

                                              Apizza has the best think crust pizza in town hands down. Well worth the wait. Have a glass of wine and chill out it's not that "unsavory" in there.

                                            2. Allow me to share a great pizza experience I had yesterday:

                                              Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River...

                                              Excellent NY-style thin crust, basic offerings as well as some crazier pies. crisp/chew crust, nice bubbling & char underneath. Great sausage, too. Typical Portland-area overpriced pie but with good beer to go along a great experience.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: goodbyeohio

                                                Where is that in Hood River? Near the old center part of town or elsewhere? Is it visible from the freeway?

                                                1. re: Dr Chow

                                                  i am not too familiar with the geography of hood river, but it's about a block and a half away from full sail. it's right kitty kornered to a patagonia store. it's a pretty big place but it's on the bottom of the hill so no real view. nice vibe inside though, plenty of seating etc.

                                                  try googling it, the website has all the info.

                                              2. Bottom line:
                                                Chris Bianco, James Beard award winner, of Phoenix was asked where would he get good pizza in the U.S. . . . 2 places - Apizza Scholls in Portland and Una Pizza Napoletana in NYC. La Cucina Italiana, April 2009.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: kelseygram

                                                  yeah, but its awfully crowded and noisy!!? ;-)

                                                  ...............must get to Una, soon.

                                                  1. re: nkeane

                                                    go on the bar side, not the pin ball side.

                                                  2. re: kelseygram

                                                    To be fair, there are ALOT of Una Pizza Napoletana haters out there too.

                                                    (too expensive, overrated, pretentious, etc)

                                                    1. re: GreenYoshi

                                                      ok, maybe I was being TOO snarky there.......I have no problems with AS. but if you read this whole thread, you will see others seem to have issues with preceived noise and crowds.........

                                                      FWIW, my prefered seat at Apizza is at the bar. Only because that means I am alone, and I get to eat the entire pizza myself!;-)

                                                  3. Hi Hounds,

                                                    Sorry to interrupt the chow talk, but the discussion here is getting acrimonious and personal.

                                                    One of the mantras of the site is "Criticize the chow, not the hound." Let's stick to discussing restaurants and leave personal comments out of this. And remember that criticism of a restaurant you like, or a disagreement with your opinion, is not a criticism of you.

                                                    We expect hounds to have different opinions and priorities (otherwise the information here would be boring and useless), but please disagree in a respectful and friendly manner.

                                                    Thank you and eat well.